How to Manage Diabetes
Managing Diabetes doesn’t have to be rocket science; all it takes is a fundamental understanding of the role that sugar plays in our daily lives. If we can balance our sugar intake, then we can manage our body. And if we can manage our body, then there’s nothing to stop us living the life we want to live. Here are two simple strategies that work together to help you manage diabetes.
First, we’ve got to understand that sugar isn’t just the white granulated stuff we put in cups of tea. Yes, sugar is found in snacks, cakes and sweets, but it is also found in rice, potatoes, bread and every other form of carbohydrate. The difference we need to be aware of is the glycaemic index, also known as GI, of the foods we eat. Simple sugars such as those found in sweets or in fruit have a High GI, whereas the sugars in brown rice and potatoes have a Low GI.
As a diabetic, the primary thing to avoid is high GI Foods. (As a general rule, if it’s an insanely bright colour, it’s probably got a high GI value!) The sugars in these digest quickly and enter the bloodstream in a very short space of time. This forces your body to release insulin and sends you onto the ‘sugar rollercoaster’ of ups and downs due to insulin and glucagon response reactions. Remember, if your body can’t break down sugars very well, i.e. is insulin resistant, then the last thing you want to do is pump it full of sugars. In short, stay away from sweets, fruit, white flour and processed grains.
Instead, a sensible management strategy would be to consume smaller amounts of Low GI foods such as potato, brown rice and whole grain breads and cereals. These will release their sugars much more slowly into your body, giving it time to break them down.
But hey, you knew all this right? The main problem is that whilst you may be committed to change, food providers are still committed to filling their wallets. When you stroll around the supermarket you’re bombarded by colourful adverts for all the foods that want to kill you. With this in mind, you NEED to have a secondary strategy to ensure that your primary food strategy works.
The second strategy is simple, find a reliable way to remove yourself from temptation. That could mean getting another family member to shop for you, aiming to only shop in whole foods stores, or even better deciding to order your food online. Once you’ve set up a weekly basket of healthy low GI foods you can simply re-order each week with a few variations to keep it interesting.
Those two strategies, as simple as they sound, are realistically all you’ll need to manage diabetes. Now that’s not to say you won’t need to carry an insulin injector with you (everyone makes mistakes.) But if you can follow these two strategies then you’ll be healthier, happier and more energetic for the majority of your time, and that’s what really matters. Good Luck.
Top 5 Nutrition Concerns for Diabetics
The number of people being diagnosed with diabetes is growing faster than any other disease. One in ten Americans already has diabetes and one in four is at risk. Fortunately, the vast majority of diabetics are able to control the disease and improve their outlook with modest changes to their eating habits.
Whether you are diagnosed with diabetes or taking steps to reduce your risk, you should plan a diet where the mix of carbohydrates, protein and fats meets your own personal preferences and health goals. It’s important to choose meals that you enjoy in order to stay committed to a healthy meal plan.
Monitoring carbohydrates and their effect on blood sugar is the most important aspect of planning diabetic meals. This can be done through carbohydrate counting. With experience, you can estimate the effects of different foods and amounts on your blood sugars.
Dietary fiber is important to maintaining blood sugar levels. Ideally, a diabetic will consume 14 grams of fiber for every one thousand calories of food that is consumed. Fiber plays a role in minimizing blood sugar spikes from carbohydrates, so at least half of all grain intake should be from whole grains because they are high in fiber.
People who regularly consume sweetened beverages are at greater risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes and have a more difficult time managing their diabetes. Sugar sweetened beverages and fruit juices should be avoided. If you really feel the need to indulge in sugary drinks, the amount should be limited to small portions of fewer than eight ounces and other carbohydrates should be reduced to compensate for the sugars in the beverage.
Alcohol must only be consumed in moderation. Drinking to excess, or drinking in the absence of fibre or protein foods, can cause hypoglycemia and ketoacidosis. Women should not have more than one drink per day; two drinks are the limit for a man.
Because of the strong correlation between heart disease and diabetes, the consumption of saturated fats should be limited to less than seven percent of total calories. If your diet is 2000 calories per day, saturated fats should be limited to just fifteen grams per day. Trans fats should also be limited because of their tendency to increase the bad cholesterol and decrease the good cholesterol in your body.
Diabetics should manage their eating by measuring their blood sugar regularly. When blood sugar is low, they should consume no more than 15 grams of carbohydrate and wait 15 minutes before retesting. If the sugar level is still low then repeat with another 15 grams of carbohydrates, wait another 15 minutes and retest again. Once the blood sugar is raised to a healthy level, eat a healthy snack or meal to prevent the hypoglycemia from recurring.
Diabetics need to pay extra attention to their diet when they are sick. Hormones produced during illness tend to elevate the effect of carbohydrates on blood sugar. When suffering an illness, you should be especially vigilante at monitoring your blood sugar, drink plenty of fluids and refrain from vigorous exercise.
Maintaining a healthy weight is an essential part of diabetic meal planning. Even a small weight loss can substantially reduce the effects of diabetes. Keeping a food diary and monitoring your sugar levels can help you to see how your food choices affect your health, and encourage you to limit unhealthy foods and lose weight.
If you have diabetes, it is essential that you work with your doctor and a dietician to make sure that all your nutritional needs are met. By considering diet choices and monitoring your health carefully, you can substantially reduce the health problems associated with diabetes.